Whole grains may prevent high blood pressure

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Whole grains may prevent high blood pressure

Eating lots of wholegrain foods could help you to prevent high blood pressure in later life, a large-scale, long-term study has found.

It is already well known that wholegrain foods help to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. And this research adds another reason to try to eat wholegrain versions of food and switch to brown rice and bread.

The benefits of wholegrain foods come from the fact that they haven't had their outer coat and germ removed by 'refining', so they contain all their goodness. In particular, wholegrains contain:

  • a fibre-rich outer coat - fibre appears to help with lowering cholesterol
  • bran - bran helps to lower triglyceride levels
  • a vitamin-and-mineral-packed germ - these vitamins and minerals may help to protect the insides of your arteries.

It is recommended that everyone eats at least three servings of wholegrains a day to help their heart. One serving is 18g or two tablespoons of brown rice or one medium slice of wholemeal bread.

This American research looked at the wholegrain eating habits of 31,684 men over 18 years. The men were aged 40-75 at the beginning of the study and did not have high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or cancer. During the 18 years of study, 9,277 men developed high blood pressure.

The researchers found that eating more wholegrain foods lowered your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, men who ate the most whole grains each day (52g or more) had a 19 per cent lower risk than men who at the least (3g or less). To gain this benefit, you only need to eat the recommended three servings a day - this would give you 54g a day.

Good sources of wholegrains include:

  • wholemeal breads and pastas
  • brown rice
  • oatmeal
  • bulgar wheat
  • buckwheat.

To increase your wholegrain intake at a stroke, why not try replacing white bread with brown or wholemeal bread and white rice with brown rice? At breakfast, why not try porridge oats?

More on healthy eating to control blood pressure

From cutting down on salt to drinking alcohol in moderation, there are plenty of ways to help your heart:


Flint AJ, Hu FB, Glynn RJ. Whole grains and incident hypertension in men. Am J Clin Nutr 90: 493-498, 2009.

Topics: Research, Lifestyle, High blood pressure

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